Welcome!

My name is Will Duchon. I live in Stratford, CT.


In 2003 I encountered Mr. Shane Watson, who is currently serving a 25 year to life sentence for second-degree murder. After careful review of the case transcripts, police reports, trial transcripts and other documentation, it became clear that Shane is not guilty of this crime. His case is an example of flawed "eyewitness" testimony, an incredibly flimsy prosecution, and essentially a travesty of justice. Shane is 49 years old, and has been in prison since 1993.



Along with some dedicated friends from Pleasantville Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville, NY, Monroe Congregational Church in Monroe, CT, the fine attorney Robert Boyle of New York City, and our dedicated investigator Doug Walters of Chicago, I am seeking to have Shane's conviction overturned so that ultimately, he will be free to enjoy his life.



This blog is simply a way to share Shane's story as well as new and current information regarding his case. I encourage you to read the posts that describe the details of his case. It is also an opportunity to learn about how flawed the criminal justice system is.

For details of the Shane Watson case, please read the SUMMARY by our investigator, Doug Walters.






Thank you for visiting.
































































Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let Us Not Lose Heart

I appreciate those who made the effort to call WBAI in New York City urging the station to share Shane Watson's story. At this writing there has been zero response from WBAI. This is very disappointing and further evidence of my perception of so-called "progressive-minded" organizations. When FOX News and right-wing radio/television entities spew their venom it is only natural to feel sickened by this kind of blatant ignorance and arrogance. In some ways, being ignored by WBAI (and to be fair, other media outlets I've tried to engage many times) is equally sickening and disappointing. FOX and its ilk have no pretense regarding their biased propaganda. WBAI, on the other hand, enjoys projecting an image of being the anti-FOX network, preaching about diversity, being a voice for the voiceless, being "free-speech radio" and other lofty claims. Yet WBAI to this point has not even extended the courtesy of a reply in ANY form to our calls and emails regarding someone who is truly "voiceless". Obviously, the so-called right-wing media does not have a monopoly on indifference.


Despite this, I ask that followers of Shane's case continue to reach out in any way to media, writers, newspapers, denominational publications, etc. On that note, another disappointment has been the UCC's (United Church of Christ) "Justice & Witness Ministries" office in Cleveland, Ohio, which advertises thus on its website
"In the United Church of Christ, we do justice. We started in the 60's with the Civil Right movement. We've been advocating for gay rights since the 70's. We took on environmental racism in the 80's. And in 2005, we were the first church in America to endorse marriage equality. We're doing justice. Join us."
I contacted this office five years ago and spoke to someone at length about Shane's case. Interestingly, the individual I spoke with happened to have grown up in the Bronx, NY and knew that neighborhood where Shane lived very well. Claiming to be "interested", the end result of our repeated correspondence was a blurb in a UCC publication about The Opus 30 Mission. Beyond that, nothing: no follow-up, no effort to assist in any way. This despite my personal connection with a UCC church in Monroe, CT, for starters.


Shane's most recent letter was typically upbeat and hopeful. He recounted incidents from the motion hearings and remains encouraged by the impending appeal. On the back of the envelope, as usual Shane wrote a scripture quotation, this time Galatians 6:9: "Let us not lose heart doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary."





Monday, August 11, 2014

PLEASE CALL OR WRITE WBAI RADIO

ON TO THE APPELLATE COURT:Our case is headed to the Appellate Court in NY, where hopefully it will be reviewed with a modicum of common sense and intelligence. Because the Appellate Court is comprised of a panel of judges, there is a better chance for a fair review since the final decision as to a new trial will not be made by ONE judge, as was the case with our motion hearing last summer. As you recall, our motion for a new trial was denied by Judge Richard Price.


In a letter dated August 4, 2014, Shane confirms this truth: "Appellate Courts have to clean up the mess by overturning decisions and sending the case back to the lower courts for trial.. I am glad that mostly everyone was there (in Judge Price's courtroom) to witness the miscarriage of justice. It's one thing to hear about it and believe it, but to SEE it is something else, isn't it?"


WBAI Radio (http://www.wbai.org) In a recent blog posting here "Thank You WBAI", I retold the account of how I first came into contact with Shane through the radio station WBAI in New York City back in 2003. The eleven years that have transpired since have led to our present situation, filing an appeal of our motion. After eleven long years, filing a motion to the Appellate Court may seem like a minimal effort considering the time frame. Did it really take ELEVEN years to do what seems such an obvious strategy? In fact, the answer (sadly) is yes. For the past eleven years I have tried to generate wider publicity about Shane's case, contacting networks, law schools, media outlets, writers and individuals. For the past eleven years we have struggled to find (hire) an investigator, and were finally shown a stroke of grace when Doug Walters stepped forward and essentially did the necessary investigative work (voluntarily and completely unpaid) which made it even possible for our attorney Robert Boyle to file a motion for a new trial last summer. Additionally, supporters of Shane's case have contributed to the legal expenses and also have corresponded with Shane as a way to offer moral support.


After the blog posting about WBAI I called the station, and emailed Berthold Reimers, WBAI's General Manager. It seemed to me that because it was through WBAI that The Opus 30 Mission came into being, the station would be willing to participate in telling Shane's story. WBAI prides itself on being a "voice for the voiceless", and a champion for progressive reporting, which is true. Shane's story transcends Shane Watson, as it represents a common occurrence in the justice system, and I have always believed that Shane's story is compelling BECAUSE it is so "ordinary". There are no sensational elements that usually drive media interest: celebrity, power, sex, scandal, etc., etc. Shane's case is "ordinary" because it demonstrates just how easy it is for an innocent person to be tried and convicted, especially when that innocent person is poor, young, Black or Hispanic. Summary: this is a perfect WBAI story.


Why then has the station ignored my calls and emails? I have suspicions about the answer to this question, but the productive response would be to urge you and anyone else to please reach out to WBAI and ask Berthold Reimers or another producer there to give Shane's story attention.
Call WBAI! 212-209-2900 or 347-903-2986
You can also email WBAI Station Manager Berthold Reimers using THIS LINK




Thank you,
Will Duchon
The Opus 30 Mission






If you care to write a note of encouragement to Shane, the address is;
Mr. Shane Watson
DIN 93A9384
Fishkill Correctional Facility
PO Box 1245
Beacon, NY 12508

Friday, August 1, 2014

New York Law Journal Article

Here is the article in the New York Law Journal about Judge Price's denial of our motion for a new trial.


The article speaks for itself. Anyone who was present during the motion hearings will share my frustration and disbelief about this judge's illogical decision. However, we are moving forward and placing the case in the hands of the Appellate Court, in the hope that there will be at least one sentient being on the panel.


According to Shane in a letter to me dated July 26, he is "holding on and not complaining." He also adds "give everyone my love as well as my appreciation."



Monday, July 14, 2014

Thank You, WBAI-FM

I'm reminded today that we owe a debt of gratitude to the excellent listener-supported radio station WBAI in New York City. In 2003, I happened to be listening to WBAI in my car, while driving in my hometown, White Plains, NY. The late Al Lewis ("Grandpa" from the 1960's sitcom "The Munsters") was speaking about prison reform on his regular Saturday morning program. Mr. Lewis spoke about how so many inmates appreciate hearing from people on the outside, in the form of a simple letter of encouragement, and urged listeners to send in a postcard with one's mailing address in order to be connected with an inmate who wanted to correspond. Several weeks later, I received a postcard with Shane Watson's name and mailing address at Green Haven Correctional Facility, in Stormville, NY.


What are the odds that I would not only be listening to WBAI at that particular moment when Al Lewis encouraged reaching out to someone in prison? And what were the odds that, of all the possible names of inmates I would be given, I was given Shane Watson's name? From this event of synchronicity, randomness, luck, fate, or whatever term one chooses to call it, here we are, over ten years later, on the verge of appealing for a new trial.


I encourage you to listen to WBAI, which has long spoken out for the voiceless.








Thursday, July 10, 2014

APPEAL

We are going forward with our appeal of Judge Price's decision. The Appellate Court is made up of a panel of judges, which we hope will be more favorable to our new evidence and see through the gaping holes in this case.






Thank you for your support and interest.












Saturday, June 28, 2014

ENOUGH

"Just when one thought that Judge Price wasn't sleeping and was going to do the right thing...(unbelievable).
We're at the door where all the sacrifice and hard work (is in sight). Amen!"
-Shane Watson, June 24, 2014


The lines above were written in the first letter I received from Shane after his being informed that Judge Richard Price denied our motion for a new trial. Fortunately, I was able to speak with Shane's wife Paula last week when I received the news from our attorney, Robert Boyle. I wanted Paula to be able to tell Shane herself when she spoke to him on the phone as they regularly do, rather than his learning the news from Robert's letter containing the 50-page decision from Judge Price. I received Shane's letter yesterday, (Friday, June 27) and first saw it when I got home after midnight from my weekly radio program on WMNR. I delayed opening the letter and reading it, knowing that Shane would be expressing yet more disappointment and frustration. I needed to prepare myself before reading Shane's letter. As usual, and as has been the case throughout my ten-year friendship with Shane, he managed to rise above the pettiness and see the setback as another step forward. I know that he does this because it is his nature to do so, but also he adopts this attitude as a survival technique. The alternative would be to sink into the abyss of hopelessness.

Being on the outside, however, I have the luxury of giving into my own frustration over this ridiculously long process, and I also sense the collective frustration of the other people who have been involved and supportive of Shane's case, like Doug Walters, for example, who was characteristically outspoken and appalled by this latest display of arrogance on the part of the system. We will now file an appeal, and go forward to the Appellate Court, which hopefully will take the new evidence we have meticulously presented in Judge Price's courtroom,see through the lies and inaccuracies of the prosecution's case, and finally administer justice.

I am sickened by Judge Price's decision, but also by the way he so cavalierly took his sweet time rendering this decision while Shane was languishing in prison. Our motion hearing concluded in October of 2013. Judge Price issued his outrageous decision on June 13, 2014. That's eight months. Eight months to issue a decision which basically says "I don't believe Christine Holloway" (the "eyewitness" who was pressured and manipulated into making an ID, who flew up from Atlanta to recant her trial testimony and describe, in detail, how Detective Jones deceived her into identifying Shane from a photo). Miss Holloway had no motive to ID Shane, and was even unaware that he had been convicted, because she moved to Georgia years ago. Her courtroom description of the way she was handled and pressured into an ID on the night of the shooting was riveting, and cast an appalling light on Detective Jones' actions. Equally appalling: the contemptuous interrogation Miss Holloway endured in a private meeting with the three prosecutors before the motion hearings began in which they bullied her, Gestapo-style .

It sickens me that because of a pathetically bad prosecution, a lazy and irresponsible Detective (Jones), an inept defense (Shane's trial lawyer Paul Markstein), a pig-headed trial judge (Gerald Scheindlin) and a clueless jury, Shane has spent twenty years of his young life in prison. Judge Richard Price's incredible "decision" further exacerbates the vile nature of this entire sad saga, punctuated by the judge taking his sweet time rendering his absurd decision while Shane could have been filing an appeal and taking the steps we can only take NOW because of judicial laziness and indifference. This is the justice system in the USA in 2014.

Once again I will take a lesson from my friend and brother and try to look upon this latest atrocity as one step closer to that ever-elusive goal: justice.

We have struggled to pay our attorney what we already owe for his work on the motion. We go forward facing more financial obligations as he prepares to represent Shane in the appeal process. I have been very grateful to friends and supporters for their personal contributions towards Shane's defense and will not continue to ask for more. We all have our own financial pressures and obligations. Perhaps you may know of another individual, or organization, company, foundation, whatever...that would be willing to help fund this effort. If so, please let me know.

In the meantime thank you for your continued support for Shane Watson, whose case represents what happens when ineptitude overrides truth. A victory for Shane is long overdue.





Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention

Having had a day or so to absorb the news of Judge Price's outrageous ruling, I think it is important to learn from this moment, or at least reinforce something all of us have been aware of from the start. Judge Price's denial of a new trial for Shane, despite glaring new evidence and the revelation of just how ineptly and corruptly Shane's prosecution was, proves a point:


It is extremely difficult to undo a conviction.


By nature, the courts loathe admitting that mistakes were made. I use the term "mistakes" politely here, because certainly in Shane's case "mistakes" were just one factor in his conviction. Blatant incompetence, prosecutorial laziness and investigative procedures that border on criminal activity also played a part in Shane's conviction. Anyone who witnessed the arrogance of the DA's trio of lawyers at last summer's hearings knows exactly what I am talking about here.


Shane's case starkly reveals just why the police and the DA's office need to get it right from the start. Shane has spent the last 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. This is, of course, the heart of this outrageous case. The endless hours spent writing letters, pleading for financial support, spreading Shane's story, going to court, waiting, hoping, wondering...all of this is just an additional consequence of a very mean-spirited, lazy and corrupt prosecution from 1993.


We are moving forward and will appeal Judge Price's decision to the Appellate Court, where, hopefully, justice will finally be served, putting an end to what has been a monumental waste of time and life.


Thank you for your support.


Will